An Overview Of Our Solution
With support from Cordaid, campaign and practice of water harvesting and buffering through recharge, retention and reuse (3R) at household, farmland and ecosystem level is implemented in the Indigenous People (IP) communities of Tara and Malawig, Coron, Palawan, Philippines to naturally conserve and protect watershed areas using available local resources reducing impact of climate and environmental induced risks. The 3R approach has enabled communities to better safeguard against diminishing water resources as water and environmental management systems have been developed. Positive mindsets, behaviors and actions of communities towards climate and disaster risk proofing of community water catchments resulted to increased water availability for basic needs and alternative livelihoods of 595 households (2,825 individuals).
- Population Impacted 595 households or 2,825 invididuals
- Continent: Asia
The IP communities of Tara and Malawig in Coron, Palawan are facing significant challenges in protecting and managing their natural resources. Water sources are diminishing, getting salty or polluted and are difficult to access by the community. Water is a critical resource in these coastal and island communities; lack of water impacts health, hygiene, food security, livelihood options, the ecosystem and reduces capacity to cope with climate change or hazards. Traditional slash and burn farming practices and illegal cutting of trees increase deforestation and further exacerbate environmental and disaster risks in these communities. Addressing this, Cordaid in partnership with Miss Universe Foundation, Partners for Resilience Alliance (PFR) and East West Seeds (EWS) Philippines implemented the integrated watershed management for climate resilience in these coastal communities using the core strategy in water conservation and protection, the 3R approach.
Describe the technical solution you wanted the target audience to adopt
Water shortages resulting from increasing climatic variability had been a perennial problem in the communities of Tara and Malawig affecting basic living requirements and food production. To address this, the 3R approach is implemented in the islands, which is a natural way of water conservation, preventing damage to and preserving ecosystem using the available resources in the area. It is a low-technology and low-input strategy that can be easily applied by community members. Recharge is intercepting rainwater to recharge water availability in the soil and groundwater. Techniques slowdown surface water runoff and seek to improve infiltration and soil conditions. Retention is adding water to the water buffers to maintain water availability for drinking, small scale farming and other domestic use through simple trapping, ponding and water harvesting techniques. Reuse is managing and using waste water so that none of the precious water is lost from the system.
Type of intervention
Describe your behavioral intervention
The participatory community and resource assessment conducted found out that the isolated coastal and island communities of Tara and Malawig face risk from food insecurity as a result of high population increase, inland and marine based environmental degradation, reduced effectiveness of current food security and livelihood practices and limited water access and availability. It also found out that IP communities had low awareness level and capacity on water conservation and management. Thus, the project was design to increase community awareness and action on integrated watershed management using the 3R approach by implementing locally applicable knowledge of technologies.
As needed, please explain the type of intervention in more detail
The project builds the capacity of the partner IP communities in changing behaviors of their peers and implementing indigenous ways of conserving and managing water resources. Tapping locals to lead in the campaign and practice of water protection and conservation for domestic use and livelihoods is effective in communicating and delivering the key messages. Awareness raising is primarily undertaken through peer to peer education or through small focus group discussions. Information, education and communication materials on 3R such as shirts, posters and brochures are produced and disseminated.
Describe your implementation
Awareness raising on issues of water management for food, livelihoods, health and hygiene is spearheaded by the organized community educators called Manigtuldok. The Manigtuldok consist of barangay council and Indigenous People’s Organization (IPO) members are organized. The Manigtuldok underwent a trainers’ training to increase their knowledge and understanding on watershed protection and management and 3R concepts and application. The 3R awareness raising activities and materials encourage community to apply and practice water harvesting and conservation. Gully traps and infiltration pits are now constructed in major water ways and springs and surrounding dug wells. The gully plugs reduced surface runoff in gullies using stone plugs, combined with infiltration pits to improve infiltration of water to the ground and prevent erosion and decrease risk of landslide. Stone terraces are also constructed in hilly areas surrounding these major water sources to trap water, reduce surface runoff and can be used for farming. In addition, more than 1,000 indigenous trees are planted in these critical areas to regenerate the forest and protect the water sources improving infiltration and retaining soil moisture. At farmland level, the community educators work with the beneficiaries of vegetable production to implement the 3R. Beneficiaries volunteer in digging canals and mini-dams in the demo farm. The rainwater flows through the canals surrounding the demo farm down to the mini-dam catchment. Since the mini-dam is lined with waterproof canvass, rainwater is stored for use in the farm. Moreover, the canals and mini-dams prevent overflow of rainwater in the vegetable beds during heavy downpour. At household level, indigenous rainwater catchment assembly using bamboo slat is made; rainwater collected is used to water the vegetables. Wastewater from cooking and washing clothes are also utilized in cleaning and watering of plants.
Different sectors within the community including the IPO, barangay local government, women, youth, school and other sectoral organizations are working together to increase awareness and actions on 3R. This is complemented by strong cooperation of different support groups including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO), local church and other civil society organizations. The DENR, NCIP and MAO are engaged in continuous capacity building and monitoring of the community educators through trainers’ training and regular meetings. These agencies also supported in the deputation of forest rangers to safeguard the forest from illegal activities. They also support tree planting activities in the communities. Moreover, the municipal agriculturists, EWS and 3R community educators facilitated weekly farmer field school to vegetable production beneficiaries integrating 3R concepts and principles.
Who adopted the desired behaviors and to what degree?
Through the intensive awareness raising, mindsets and behaviors of community members are changed and translated into actions. The locals are now protecting and conserving water sources through 3R approach to water harvesting, applying the principle that “every drop counts”, harvesting and buffering water and minimizing water loss from the water cycle. With the inspiration from the 3R community educators, the youth and the local schools become active advocates and volunteers to minimize the loss of water, planting more trees to improve soil infiltration and maintaining the multi-crop nursery to provide new seedlings for tree planting activities. Most importantly, the council of elders of the communities were also influenced and approved the adoption of the integrated watershed management and forest protection policy for Tara-Buenavista-Malawig ancestral domain using the 3R as core strategy in water conservation and protection.
How did you impact natural resource use and greenhouse gas emissions?
The 3R applications focus on the functions of land and water buffers as part of the integrated watershed management and climate change adaptation. Using indigenous ways of protecting and conserving water resources has a big impact in mitigating the effects of climate change. Trees planted and protected in the watershed areas not just protect water sources but also support carbon sequestration.
What were some of the resulting co-benefits?
With interventions on water conservation and protection using the 3R approach, the following results were achieved:
Ten water sources naturally conserved and protected using the 3R approach to safeguard diminishing water supply;
1000 indigenous trees were planted in critical watershed areas to regenerate forest and protect water sources;
Two community multi-crop nurseries established and managed local nursery management team composed of the baragangay local government, indigenous peoples organization and youth organization;
595 families have improved access of clean and safe water for domestic use, drinking and farming;
200 families established container gardening and communal demo farms integrating 3R approach.
To ensure sustainability, the project builds the capacity of the partner IP communities in changing behaviors of their peers and implementing indigenous ways of conserving and managing water resources. With the improved water availability and accessibility as a result of water conservation and protection, the IPs have become more responsible in conserving and managing their water resources to make sure water is always available in the midst of the changing climate.
Return on investment
The 3R approach to water conservation and protection to mitigate the effects of climate change is low-technology and low-input approach, it primarily depends on volunteerism and participation of community members. However, if community water system development and rehabilitation will be undertaken concurrent to the implementation of 3R, the cost for the interventions would be around $10,000.00 to 25,000.00, depending on the needs of the area. This would in turn benefit at least 2,500 individuals of improved and continuous access and availability of safe water. Investment cost is at $4-10 for a lifetime of accessible and available water while protecting and conserving water resources as part of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
How could we successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?
Through the NCIP, the 3R approach to water conservation as part of climate change mitigation was replicated in neighboring ancestral domains in Coron and Busuanga. The 3R community educators in Tara and Malawig were tapped as resource persons to train other IP members in the neighboring ancestral domains to implement 3R. The 3R approach has also been practiced in rural communities of Indonesia supported by Cordaid prior to the introduction in the Philippines. On the whole, the 3R strategy on water conservation and protection is very simple and can be easily replicated and adopted.